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chosen, correctly arranged, and attractively ordered. Make up your mind to excel. Aim high, and evermore push on, believing that your best efforts should only be stepping stones to something better. The very best style you can attain will be none too good for the glorious themes upon which you write.
But, remember, there is a more material business than mere excellence of composition. Your manner is important, but your matter is far more so. Teil us something well worth knowing when you write. It is folly to open your mouth merely to show your teeth; have something to say, or speak not at ail: ink is better in the bottle than on the paper if you have nothing to communicate. Instruct us, impress ns, interest and improve us, or at least try to do so. It is a poor achievement to have concocted a book in which there is neither good nor hurt, a chip in the porridge, a correctly composed nothing; but to have pleaded with men affectionately, or to have taught them efficiently, is a result worthy of a life of effort. Try, brother, not because it is easy, but because is worth doing. Write until you can write ; burn half a ton of paper in the attempt, it will be far better in the flames than at the printer's ; but labour on till you succeed. To be a soul-winner by your books when your bones have mouldered is an ambition worthy of the noblest genius, and even to have brought hearts to Jesus by an ephemeral paper in a halfpenny periodical is an honour which a cherub might envy. Think of the usefulness of such books as “ James' Anxious Enquirer,” and “The Sinner's Friend." These are neither of them works of great ability, but they are simple and full of the gospel, and therefore God blesses them. Is it not possible for others of us to produce the like? Let us try, and God helping us, who can tell what we may do.
One concluding word to our young brother. We would not recommend you to try poetry. Write reason before you write rhyme. The usual way is to sacrifice the sense to the jingle: do you adopt the other plan. Do not expect public men to spare time to read your manuscripts : apply to some judicious friend nearer home. Do not be thin-skinned, but accept severe criticism as a genuine kindness. Write legibly if you expect your article to be accepted by an editor : he cannot waste time in deciphering your hieroglyphics. Condense as much as possible, for space is precious, and verbiage is wearisome. Put as much fact as you can into every essay, it is always more interesting than opinion ; narratives will be read when sentiments are slighted. Keep the main end in view, but aim at it prudently ; do not worry readers with illtimed moralisings and forced reflections. Ask a blessing on what you compose, and never pen a sentence you will on your dying bed desire to blot. If you attend to these things, we shall not repent of having said to you, “ Use the pen."
On Being Apt to Teach." *
BY VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH, OF THE STOCKWELL ORPHANAGE. ** It is not the will of your father that one of these little ones should perish."
-Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."
" Train up a child in the way he should go : and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
PTNESS to teach is the keystone of the arch of the Sunday-school
system ; without it the most elaborate schemes of instruction, the most perfect machinery, and the most devoted application to the work, will result in failure. An incompetent ruler is the parent of national misfortune, and leaves, as his bequest, a heritage of sorrow and disgrace ; but an incompetent teacher, who gives a wrong bias to his scholars, is responsible, to a great extent, for consequences which involve eternal issues. The subject before us is of the utmost importance, and should engage the earnest attention of every Sundayschool teacher.
To be apt to teach, a teacher must possess certain personal qualifications; he must be acquainted with the subjects he has to work upon; he must also know the tools he has to use, and employ only right methods.
I. Personal qualifications. These must be determined, and their possession required of all those who are admitted to the ranks of Sundayschool teachers. However willing a person may be to accept an appointment as teacher, this by no means proves his fitness for the work. I know it is a difficulty felt by many, how to sustain the classes of our established schools by those who are apt to teach, and thus many are pressed into the service whose vocation is certainly not that of teaching.
Would it not be the more pradent course to convert the school into a children's service under an efficient leader, rather than allow the work to languish in the hands of those by whom it must inevitably be marreil ? A too rigid conformity to a definite system is to be deplored, if we are not able to command the instrumentality which will enable us to realise the end for which the system exists. Christian work, in all its departments, requires elasticity. It is easy to produce a stereotyped copy of any model, but we want the energy of life, not the cold symmetry of a marble statue. God can only use a living soul, and then only by bringing that soul into sympathy with himself. It is a mistake to construct a system, and demand that God should fall in with our narrow ideas of how his work shall be done, and his purposes of grace accomplished. We must be “ workers together with God." He was at work before we came into the world, and we must fall in with his methods, for he “is excellent in working." It is time enough to be conservative when our schemes are worked in harmony with the divine plan.
This article is published separately, and may be had of W. Champion, 161, New Kent Road, London. Price One Penny. For distribution, 25 copies is. 6d, or post free, 13. 8.
There are three kinds of personal qualifications we must insist upon -of the heart, the intellect, and the character. No one is apt to teach who lacks the primary qualification of love to God. The heart must throb with the impulse of the divine life, if God is to use us in his work. He who has never tasted that the Lord is gracious, is not likely to be wise in winning souls. The true attitude of the Christian teacher is expressed in the words of the psalmist: "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord." Then there must be that sympathy with child-nature which is born of love. Sundayschool work is the most irksome drudgery if love to God and love to the souls of the children is absent from the heart. Purity of motive must be apparent, and no ulterior object can be admitted for a moment. We must view the work in the light of the divine love, and prosecute it in obedience to a divine commission, if we wish it to issue in a glorious success.
Then as to intellect--aptness to teach pre-supposes capacity to learn, and respectable attainments in knowledge. If the mind of the teacher is not cultivated his ideas will be confused, and his knowledge a shapeJess mass; he will live in a chronic fog, and be powerless to conduct others into the fair temple of truth. A teacher sacrifices his influence over his scholars if he has to shelve their questions from his inability to answer them.
Personal habits must be studied, which are the true index of character. Sham teachers are of no use at all; success demands intense earnestness and entire consecration. The work is too important to admit of trifling. If it is not the solemn business of a man's life, he had better not undertake it. Diligence is essential to being apt to teach ; earnest study is indispensable. It will not do to make your lessons in your class; they must be thought out beforehand. A minister of my acquaintance was once told that his week-night sermons were pretty good, but they smelt of the omnibus. Let your teaching
Let your teaching be as fresh and fragrant as the new-mown grass, if you like, but give your ideas time to grow. An apt teacher will be punctual ; his engagements will be held sacred. He will take care to wind up his watch on the Saturday night, and have his umbrella ready should it chance to rain in the morning. He will take care to be included in the first of three classes comprised in a prayer by Rowland Hill: “O Lord, bless those who are in their places; have mercy upon those who are on the road; and save those who are getting ready to come.” Working in fellowship with others, an apt teacher will study his work, and not his own prejudices. He will not throw the school machinery out of gear to compass any selfish end. He will not be too stubborn, nor, on the other hand, will he be too pliable, for, as John Ploughman says, “A man must have a backbone, or he couldn't stand upright; but he must learn to bend it, or he will soon crack bis skull against a beam.”
II. Acquaintance with the subjects. No one is apt to teach who has never tried to understand the wonderful nature of the material he has to deal with. Human nature is very complex, and ignorance of certain fundamental laws will involve failure.
1. He must know something of the mind, with its various faculties perception, judgment, memory, and will. To ignore the perceptive faculty is to labour in the dark. He will study to bring the truth within the range of the child's perception. The same truth may be presented as a deal board, falling crosswise, or as a pointed arrow from the bow of a clever archer. When a truth is submitted to the perceptive faculty, he will present it in such a way as to commend it to the judgment, if he is apt to teach. He will not try to win a reluctant assent by the affectation of authority or status. If the judgment be not convinced, the teacher's work is not began. Then the truth commended to the judgment must be so arranged that it may be retained by the memory. The end you have in view will not be gained if your teaching passes through the mind as water through a sieve. Guiding principles of conduct must be lodged in the mind, to stand the possessor in good stead when necessity arises. The whole will be crowned if the will is enlisted on the side of right. These are the principal mental faculties with which you have to deal as educators of the young: perception, judgment, memory, will—and you must do your best to understand them if you would be apt to teach.
2. Then an apt teacher must possess a right acquaintance with the moral condilion of his charge. The shadow of original sin, and the darkness of actual guilt rest upon the soul, hence we are said to be “ darkness ”-to be in the “kingdom of darkness,” and “of the night.” The heart is selfish, self-deceived, self-satisfied, ungodly—“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” None are too young to need the converting influences of divine grace. Nature's darkness is dispelled only by the light of divine truth; nature's selfishness corrected only by the benevolence of divine love; and nature's sinfulness cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, applied to the heart by the Spirit of God. The poetry of childhood is often beautiful, but it is not always true.
3. Dispositions must be studied, which reveal or indicate special character. As no two children are alike in their features, so they are not alike in their individuality. Each one seems to develop according to a law of his own. In most families and classes there are dull and slow children, who belong to the age of stage coaches—they are a little behind the times. And there are others so bright and quick, that they remind one of a Great Western Express. Some are open-hearted, frank, and generous; others are sly, cunning, deceitful. Again, there are sensitive little souls, who are timid and reserved to a fault; and contrasting with these, there are others who are bold, forward, vulgar. Instruction will be so wisely adapted, that the slow will be stimulated, the fast checked, the generous praised, the cunning detected, the timid encouraged, and the forward repressed, if you are apt to teach.
III. Knowledge of the right instruments, and how to use them. Every end can be reached by its appropriate means. Improper tools in the hand of the best workman will defeat his object. 1. The educator's first instrument is language.
" How forcible are right words!" "A word fitly spoken” how good is it! But the grain of good thought may be lost in the verbiage of bad diction. There is no teaching in mere talk. Words are worthless unless they are the setting of true thought. Some people cannot see a noun unless they approach it through an avenue of adjectives. They can only express themselves in stately sentences composed of Latinised words. Now, if you are apt to teach you will prune your language of recondite words, and express
your ideas in terse and pointed Saxon. 2. Fitly chosen words will be pronounced with natural inflection and proper emphasis. A monotony of tone, to the drawling rhythm of which the children are soon sent to dreamland, will be studiously avoided. Your teaching will not be lost in the din of your verbal artillery, but will distil into the soul like the noiseless dew of a summer's night, if you are apt to teach.
3. Another instrument of immense importance is that of manner. The teacher's personal bearing is potent for good or evil. A spirit of levity is contagious in the extreme, and so is a spirit of seriousness. If we are much with children we shall impress our character upon them, for their minds are “ plastic as soft wax.” Some teachers I have known are like hedgehogs with their bristles extended, repelling all who happen to be near them, while others are like a magnet, attracting towards them all who come within the sphere of their influence. There is a subtle, refining power in a genteel manner, therefore always act with discretion, and never compromise yourselves as ladies and gentlemen in the presence of your scholars.
4. Keep a pleasant countenance, and the light of your smile will gladden many a young heart, and prove a very valuable educative instrument. If a genial soul lights up the face, you will soon win their confidence and love. By mere facial expression you can reprove or commend without the utterance of a single syllable. The words of Sinai, all aglow with lightning, and resonant with thunder, may coerce men into a reluctant submission, but God loves the filial obedience in response to the guidance of his eye. “I will guide thee with mine eye." This suggests our course of action, and the means of success.
5. The grand instrument, however, is the truth of God's word. The communication of truth to the mind is not merely the end you seek, but an instrument by which you seek to impress the heart and mould the character. If the Bible is regarded as a text-book which you must teach, your teaching will lack life and power. You may get a sublimer philosophy, and a higher code of morals from the teaching of the gospels and the epistles, but Jesus and the apostles will be placed, on a higher pedestal it is true, but on the same ground as Plato and Socrates. Failure will crown your work, if what you teach is not made to subserve the grand aim of soul-winning.
6. Do not neglect prayer as a means of your own soul-culture, and do not disregard it as an educative instrument. Conceive the truth in the atmosphere of prayer, teach it in the spirit of prayer, and God will own your labour to the salvation of the souls of your children, and the glory of his own great name.
IŤ. Right methods: the instruments must be used in the right way, or you will not achieve the right thing.
i. Ascertain the groundwork in the minds of your scholars ; make sure of your foundation, and then take heed how you build. Do not assume they know more than they do, or you will shoot over their heads; do not assume they know less, or you will shoot beside the mark. Study simplicity, but do not babyfy your teaching. Goody-poody